Discredited abortion doctor Steven Brigham may be entitled to manage the New Jersey clinics he was ordered to sell when that state took his medical license in 2014 for endangering patients.
That's part of a ruling released Tuesday by the New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners, the same regulators who yanked his license after he was found to be illegally performing dangerous late-term abortions.
As part of that action, Brigham was ordered to sell his interest in his seven New Jersey clinics. Instead, Brigham faked an ownership transfer to his medical director, Vikram Kaji, the state attorney general alleged last year.
In Tuesday's ruling, the board concluded that the transfer might be legitimate, and that there might be nothing to stop Brigham's new company from managing the clinics. But an administrative judge will need to sort all that out, the board said.
Brigham formed a company about a year ago, Fidelity Venture Services, that was then hired to manage "all nonmedical aspects" of the seven clinics, which are advertised as American Women's Services and headquartered in Voorhees, according to the ruling.
"Obviously, the fact that Dr. Brigham is the president of the entity that the [clinics] contracted with raises many 'red flags,' " the board wrote in the ruling. "There is nothing that would render such an agreement per se illegal."
In Tuesday's ruling, the board rejected the attorney general's request for a judgment banning Kaji from the medical director job and also taking action against his license.
Brigham, 59, has had many administrative disciplinary hearings over the last 20 years that have cost New Jersey taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. A spokesman for the Attorney General's Office did not respond to an Inquirer email asking whether Brigham has fulfilled the medical board's order to pay $561,000 in penalties and prosecution costs related to his license revocation.
New Jersey regulators and prosecutors have refused all requests for interviews about the Brigham case over the last seven years.
Joseph Gorrell, the lawyer for Brigham and Kaji, did not respond to a request for comment. (Brigham has appealed his license revocation to N.J. Superior Court's Appellate Division.)
Last February, Gorrell provided the disciplinary board a stock transfer certificate signed by Brigham that said the abortion clinics had been sold to Kaji.
Kaji, 80, was disciplined in the 1990s for sexually abusing patients, and in 2013 for doing an inadequate job as medical director. During a hearing, he acknowledged he had suffered a stroke that affected his vision and memory.
In May, Kaji testified during a hearing that he was not the owner of the abortion clinics, despite the ownership transfer, and that Brigham continued to "run the show."
But Gorrell sent the board new records and testimony from his clients to challenge the allegation that the transfer was a sham.
Kaji contended he was "confused" by questions during the May hearing because American Women's Services had no property and the transferred stock had no value. Brigham submitted documents that claimed "the medical practice in New Jersey is not generating any operating profit," according to the board's Tuesday ruling.
While the board rejected the state's motion for a judgment against Kaji, it ordered that the administrative hearing be held as soon as possible because "there is a compelling public interest in accelerating . . . the adjudication of this matter."
Public records chronicle Brigham's 25-year, multistate history of trouble with medical boards, regulators, the IRS, landlords, creditors, and prosecutors in Maryland. Abortion providers and antiabortion groups have complained about him to regulators for many years.
He lost his New Jersey license - the last of five he once held - for violations that began in 2009. He initiated late-term abortions in his New Jersey clinics, which are not licensed for such risky surgeries. Then he completed the abortions by surgically removing the dead fetuses a day or so later in a clandestine clinic in Elkton, Md., where he has never had a license.
The gambit came to light after a patient who was critically injured in Elkton went to police.